Last year, in the draft, the Warriors were faced with a choice to either take the sweetheart of College Hoops, Stephen Curry, or the highly renowned prospect, Jordan Hill. Sure, right now, only an idiot would take Hill over Curry. However, this post is not about that.
Year after year, the Warriors seem to be one of the very few teams in the NBA asking the same question on draft day: Which position to fill?
At the time of the '09 draft, taking Curry over Hill was a relatively dumb choice. Curry was a small, scoring guard/playmaker. He was going to be a defensive liability. He was not thought of highly by many scouts.
However, there were some good things about Curry. He was the NCAA's leading scorer a year ago. He was a very good passer. He had a high basketball IQ. He had a very good NBA pedigree. He had a great attitude. And he lead all rookies in PER, and was one of the rookies with an above 10.0 win score.
So, the point is that picking Curry was not a horrible choice, but the ideal choice would be to fill the long-empty PF spot that the Dubs have been looking for almost a decade to fill. Jordan Hill, by all means, would have been the ideal choice for that, and was supposed to be the Warriors' # 7 overall pick.
So, now we that we have Curry, take a look at who we'd have to fill:
PG: We already have Curry. However, the hypothetical that we receive the consensus #1 overall pick, John Wall, remains.
Rumor: Wall is going to be Wade, and therefore can play with Curry.
Wrong. Wall is athletic, not Wade. Wall, in his best light, will be similar to Jason Kidd. Kidd, in his early years, was very athletic. He was a triple-double machine and a very, very good playmaker. He was a very good defender (back then) and never really became a good scorer. Kidd was always renowned for his ability to chuck yet win games.His career TS% is a below-league average .503 TS%. I don't expect Wall to be similar, at all.
We could experiment with Wall at the 2, however, I have a feeling that that kind of experiment would only lead to chaos for the team. Wall has a very raw skill-set, the least of which you could have said of a rookie Wade. Wade as a rookie had a pretty refined mid-range game and always had the ability to draw fouls and slash. Wall is a decent slasher, but he isn't as refined offensively as Wade. Wall doesn't even really have a jumpshot, which is really not expected of Calipari point guards (see Rose, Derrick and Evans, Tyreke). Wall is the type of player to rely on his athleticism to defend, slash, and make plays.
The problem with Wall, however, is that he isn't extensively good at one thing. It would be different if he were bigger, but the thing that strikes me is that he was never that extensively good of a playmaker (in the light of Nash/Kidd in college) and his offensive game isn't as polished as most college players coming out. I don't really believe, in my opinion, that he has the makings of Lebron to have a super-high basketball IQ and be able to will his way to being an MVP candidate every year. In short, Wall is overrated.
In fact, the most apparent way one could tell that Wall is overrated, by a little if not alot, is that he is not ranked in among the top 100 in college PER.
For the PG spot, I have a feeling that the Lakers will be looking to dump either Brown/Farmar, and with a good owner, we should be able to sign one of them as the backup PG. I have a feeling that any kind of combo guard could play with Curry, as long as they are not ball dominant and have played on contending teams.
SG: We already have Monta, who is most likely going to be moved. If the team is sold to an open bidder by the summer, this will become more likely.
Rumor: Curry and Monta are one of the best, most productive back-courts in the NBA.
No, and in a nutshell, they can not play together at an elite level. People forget, when talking about small back-courts, there are always certain factors involved. The Spurs, for example, have a small backcourt.
However, the Spurs also have Ginobili, arguably the NBA's best sixth man for almost a decade (and, yes, this year included. Crawford is not as good as Ginobili).
Ginobili is a playmaker, shooter, scorer, great defender, and a very good chemistry player.
Also note that with the 'We Believe' run in '07, the Warriors have a pretty sized backcourt which included the well-oiled machine Baron Davis and the good-sized Jason Richardson. Monta Ellis, much to the tone of George Hill, was coming off the bench.
Also, the Spurs had Duncan. CSNBA analyst Matt Steinmetz pointed out that a big backcourt seems necessary only because the Warriors lack substantial size to bang with other teams down low. While that is true, you would never need a big, dominant frontcourt if you had a good defensive team and a defensively capable backcourt. This can be done with the right coach. (See Brooks,Scott.)
Anyway, there is still a ring in the air in the favor of drafting Evan Turner of Ohio State, who has a decent chance of becoming the 1st overall pick, ahead of John Wall.
Turner is ranked 5th overall in college prospect PER at 31.30. He is an established playmaker, rebounder, and scorer.
Turner possesses a rare skill in leadership, and is one of the most fluid offensive players at the college level.
However, Turner's relatively high usage rating of 26.8 would make one question whether or not he could play with Curry. There is definitely a way Curry would play with him, but it probably would not benefit either of them to dominate the ball. With Ellis constantly running the ball up the court, driving and forcing the tempo, it really isn't beneficial to anyone but the opposing team. Ellis' decision-making is below average, to be generous. Ellis is probably one of the most low-efficiency, good scorers in NBA history. Ellis, so far has shot a career .538 TS%, which is a shade above the league average.
Anyway, Turner is most likely not going to be Ellis. While Turner does mirror Ellis in that he is primarily a slasher, lacks consistent shooting ability from the perimeter, and is a turnover machine, Turner is not nearly as statistically horrible as Ellis. Turner's FG% is .519, which is very efficient. I did not use eFG% or TS% because he is not a three-point shooter, and Turner is not nearly the chuck artist Ellis is. Turner has a very refined mid-range game and is very, very likely going to be the primary or secondary offensive option on whatever team he will land on.
Rumor: Turner does not do anything extensively well, and therefore is not going to be a good, if not great NBA player.
This is untrue. While Turner does not have, to an extent, very elite athleticism or a very 'specialized base' to work off of as a player, Turner is still very, very valuable. While Turner will most likely make a living at the 2 spot, a good NBA comparison, to me would be more Grant Hill than Brandon Roy. While Roy is a good player, Hill is more versatile and perfect for teams with already-superstars (Curry, Nash). Know the difference between the Suns without Stoudamire and the Warriors? Grant Hill.
Hill is the Suns 2nd best playmaker, their best defender, one of their best rebounders, and very efficient scorer.
While Turner may or may not turn out to be the superstar everyone would expect from the 2nd overall pick in the same draft as John Wall, he could be the step we would have to take to go from a year-round garbage team to an elite team in the Western Conference.
So, while we might have Ellis, don't take your eye off of Evan Turner. Quite literally, he could be our way of the hole that Cohan has dug us in to.
SF: When CSNBA analyst Matt Steinmetz was asked about the need to fill a position, he responded, "The position we need to fill the least is the 2 or the 3 [...]However, we will probably need a playmaker next to [Curry] in the long run [...] at the 3 [...]"
Rumor: We can play Williams at the SF, throw in Azubuike and Morrow.
No way. In the NBA, the 3 spot is perhaps the most difficult to fill. In run and gun teams, the 3 is usually a very athletic player (See Maggette, Corey; Smith, Josh; Durant,Kevin; Marion,Shawn). In passing/playmaking teams that run a set offense/have an established playmaker, the 3 spot is usually filled by a complimentary playmaker. (See Hill, Grant; Miller, Mike). While that may not apply to the Utah Jazz, it is safe to say that they make up for the lack of a significant, established secondary playmaker by moving the ball as a unit.
So, we'd have to either find a secondary playmaker, or move the ball well. So, out of curiosity, who actually chokes the ball movement? According to 82games.com, the culprits are Ellis, Maggette, Radmonavic, Randolph, and Azubuike. So, naturally, we may never be Utah. And so, our most favorable option would probably be to sign or draft a secondary playmaker to put next to Curry.
Rumor: Randolph can be the SF.
While it may be a dead rumor for now, it was alive and well a few months ago. Randolph will always be a PF, and if he lives up to the hype, will be a very, very good one. There's no way he could play the SF. While he could cause severe match-up problems for opposing teams, he certainly isn't polished enough to do it, and isn't a playmaker at all. While he may be athletic, Randolph is horrible on defense and will most likely be that way until he gains some weight and stops fouling. Right now, Randolph is at the height of being a defensive liability, despite the shot-blocking ability, right now that is as much of a gamble as Ellis reaching in before a defender beats him
Considering we fall low enough in the draft to acquire the likes of Al-Farouq Aminu, the 6-9 forward out of Wake Forest, his future in the NBA, statistic-wise, does not look very bright. While he averaged a decent 15ppg, his role at the 3 would probably be limited. His Turnover ratio is a 17.1 compared to his low 7.1 Ast . Ratio. His rebounding rate was an accomplished 16.6 and his Usg rate was not very high, at 22.3. However, he ranked 92nd overall in PER. In short, he would be a smaller version of Carl Landry, at most. I don't expect him to be an impact player, if he makes a difference at all.
Wesley Johnson, the 22 year old prospect out of Syracuse, is getting some pre-draft love from fans around the NBA. The 6-7, athletic shooter transferred after his freshman year at Iowa State and being ineligible to play the next year in the NCAA.
Johnson, like Wall, is not ranked in the top 100 PER for college prospects entering the draft.
Johnson's TS% is very high at .599 and he averaged 16.4ppg on 50.2% from the field.
Though he averaged only 2.22apg, his passing has been said to be underrated. Johnson is not a very unselfish player, with an Ast. ratio of only 11.0. Johnson, when looking at his rare combination of length and shooting ability, fills into the mold of Reggie Miller, especially with his ability to move w/o the ball. However, when you add in his athleticism and how much better Miller was at shooting the ball, a better comparison would be Shawn Marion with the ability to shoot. Johnson is also an elite rebounder (8.5rpg). However, he is not the type of player the Warriors would need at the 3, though he could be a good piece.
PF: While Wright may or may not start next year, and Randolph may or may not become the desirable PF by next year, there are plenty of occasions in which we would see a new PF from the draft.
Rumor: Randolph is our future PF and we are locked up at that position.
While it is true that the future is hung on Randolph, it is a very flawed assumption to believe Randolph can just come in next year and be a 20-10 player. First of all, the foul problem is immense. Second of all, the weight problem isn't going to solve itself, and he only gained weight over the summer because he grew an inch. Thirdly, depending on the future of the Warriors and which direction Riley decides to go in, this may be the height of Randolph's trade value. So, it's not dumb to assume that Randolph won't be with the team next year or the following years. However, he is 20 years old, and is not expected to fill his upside for at least a couple years.
Hypothetically, the Warriors are in position to draft Derrick Favors out of Georgia Tech, especially if Sacramento is willing to stay up to their clause of wanting a big man, particularly DeMarcus Cousins.
As for Favors, who ranks 79th overall in the draft class PER at 24.89, is an 18 year-old part of Georgia Tech's formidable offensive line.
Playing alongside Peacock and Lawal, Favors' usage rate is a low 17.4. Ironically, his turnover rate, 18.1, is higher. His Ast. Rate is 8.1. His rebounding rate is a respected 15.5, which is very good for any player that plays alongside Lawal and Peacock. Favors obviously did not get enough touches to be considered a prime star (though he has tremendous upside) or even showcase his offensive skill set. According to scouts at nbadraft.net, Favors has "Soft hands that allow him to corral passes that most bigs would muff..." Favors arguably has the best hands in the draft and obviously has not had a fair chance to showcase his skill considering that he did not play with a average backcourt, to be generous. Favors has the upside of a guy that would typically become an Al Horford-type player. However, watching Favors, It is my opinion that he would be more mobile than Horford, and perhaps bigger. Favors has a very good work ethic and body to be an Amar'e Stoudamire-type player. One very, very slim possibility is him being another Dwight Howard, which would probably never happen, but his skill set, body, and work ethic suggest he may be at least half of that good.
C: While Biedrins may or may never have a breakout year in the future, he certainly has lost a huge amount of value in his record-breaking low season.
Rumor: Randolph and Wright can play together at the 5 and the 4, respectively.
This is false. They can not play together, just because they play similar styles and that have, in essence, the same weaknesses and strengths. That would only exaggerate their weaknesses even more. Take, for example, the Georgia Tech backcourt. Favors and Lawal are essentially the same player, so all of Favors' flaws are very much evident. The fact that Randolph and Wright have the same problems, as of now, would only worsen the situation of not having dominant interior defense/rebounding (thought Randolph is a good rebounder) and would only exploit our backcourt's tissue-soft defense and make us an even-worse team defensively.
And, remember that during the 'We Believe' run, we were not ranked last in defensive rating, at all. In fact, we were an average team defensively. I'd attribute this to the large backcourt and the shotblocking of Andris Biedrins.
Now, the consensus C in the draft is the big, lackadaisical, Demarcus Cousins.
Cousins leads all NCAA prospects in PER at 35.45.
Cousins has an eye-popping rebounding rate at 21.1, however, that may be a bit inflated as he, realistically was the only one in UK other than Patterson to be a dominant rebounder. While this was probably expected of Demarcus, as he only played around 20 mpg on the season, his stamina is a big issue. Cousins is not exactly a very athletic big man. Although his vertical leap has not been officially taken, he is not expected to perform very well on that. According to DraftExpress.com, Cousins has ranked #1 overall in PER for the last 8 years (since he was 11) and has also ranked #1 overall in points per 40 minutes (pace-adjusted), rebounds per 40 minutes, and field goals made. Cousins also gets to the free throw line at an amazing rate of 12 times per 40 minutes.
However, Cousins, even with his body, is not nearly the defensive powerhouse you'd think he'd be. He has below average lateral quickness (inability to switch), not-very-good shotblocking ability, and pretty low awareness and, according to DraftExpress.net, has trouble competing with other bigs that are physically bigger and stronger than him. While Cousins has an array of post moves, he 'lacks intelligence', is 'Better suited for a half-court offense' and 'Out of control at times', Cousins is nonetheless a dominant rebounder, and if he settles his mental issues, can be a good prospect.
So, in short, the draft isn't really dictated by our needs as much as it is our draft position. Draft slots 1-5 are all different positions.
I'll end with a quote from CSNBA analyst Matt Steinmetz:
"What position don't [the Warriors] need to fill?"